The Bottom of the Barrel: Comping 2018 Jose Reyes

There’s no other way to say it: Jose Reyes is having a bad season. How bad? Well, his .190 TAv ranks 306th out of the 308 major leaguers with as many plate appearances, which is pretty bad.
But if you’re looking for a nice, balanced player, you’ll be happy to hear that, defensively, he’s also one of the worst shortstops and one of the worst third basemen. He does it all! This is the kind of play that scores you a -0.77 WARP, no easy feat in half a season.

You may be thinking “Gosh, this must be the worst season ever!” But if you’re a Mets fan, you probably have a sneaking suspicion that you’ve seen ineptitude like this before. In fact, there have amazingly been 55 different Mets player seasons worth less WARP than Reyes’s 2018 (and Doug Flynn has four of them!). But when we dig down to just the very worst, the “elite” true incompetence on both sides of the ball, some familiar faces rise to the top, much like inedible gristle in a delicious, simmering stew.

Bobby Bonilla – 1999

Did you know the Mets are still paying Bobby Bonilla? True story!

While the memories of Bobby Bo’s second stint with the Mets are long outlived by his deferred contract payments, it’s hard to fault anyone for repressing the details of his presence in an otherwise enjoyable season. Indeed, if it weren’t for a deep playoff run featuring many franchise favorites, we might still be talking about how unbelievably bad Bonilla was, because it’s worse even than the legend really communicates.

Well past his prime, Bonilla returned to the Mets sporting a career .295 TAv, quite solid for his era. He was a pretty poor defender overall, but he could hit! But that year, he scraped out just four home runs en route to a .204 TAv and paired it with poor-even-for-him defense that landed him a -0.75 WARP in just 141 plate appearances. He had pushed for more playing time (sound familiar?) and can you imagine what those numbers would look like if he had gotten it? The sky’s the limit.

Rey Ordonez – 2000

The slick-fielding Ordonez holds a special place in Mets fans’ hearts. The Bringer of Web Gems carried errorless streaks that elevated him to mythical status and made the late 90’s teams that much more fun to watch. But like all mythological figures, the reality is a little less fun.

Ordonez has been a frequent comp for Juan Lagares, whose dominant play in the outfield has never been matched by his anemic bat. But even in Lagares’ worst offensive season, his TAv topped Ordonez’s career mark by 20 points. Ordonez’s best comp? Probably a pitcher. Or 2018 Jose Reyes.

But 2000 was the year that he rapidly became a zero tool player. Even before a season-ending injury, he had lost a step or five in the field and really had nothing else to bring to the table. His sub-Mendoza batting average and an almost unimaginable .038 isolated slugging gave him a .184 TAv, leading to a nice and tidy -1.00 WARP in just a third of a season.

Jeremy Reed – 2009

The 2009 Mets offer a bounty of mediocrities, underperformers and downright failures, but the unappreciated leader of the pack was Jeremy Reed. A minor piece of the brutal blockbuster trade that landed the Mets an injured J.J. Putz and one of their many spelling variants of Sean Green, it’s hard to imagine a mere fifth outfielder topping that pair in disappointment, but Reed was up to the challenge.

Thrust by injuries into an agonizing 177 plate appearances, Reed’s .209 TAv was bad even by his own mediocre standards and his middling outfield play turned out to be a treat in comparison to his short and brutal stint at first base. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t hit and he couldn’t field. A perfect recipe for a -0.80 WARP and the perfect representative for the 2009 Mets.

Honorable Mention: Doug Flynn

In the interest of full disclosure, I had never made note of the name Doug Flynn before I set out on this journey to boost Jose Reyes’s ego. It sounded familiar, of course, but I never fully appreciated his importance in Mets history. He holds the distinction of having put up a negative WARP in four of his five seasons with the Mets, including both the worst and second-worst in team history. Those -2.95 and -2.3 WARP seasons (1979 and 1977, respectively) really make you wonder if that whole “nine players in a lineup” thing is a rule or more of a guideline. Where could the Mets possibly have found such an all-around atrocious player? In the Tom Seaver trade, of course.

Photo credit: Adam Hunger – USA Today Sports

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